According to my calculations, Ticketmaster currently just barely edges out Exxon and Halliburton as the most-loathed company in existence. Previously, the bulk of that hatred was thanks to the exorbitant fees it tacked onto concert tickets, ostensibly for giving you the privilege of navigating their reliably infuriating, poorly designed, and perennially buggy website. But now there's a brand new reason to hate Ticketmaster: it knowingly tolerates ticket-buying hacker-spawned bots on its network.
The New York Times has a report about the ticket-snatching bots, which currently buy up to a staggering 60% of the company's goods. For anyone who's logged on at precisely 9:00 am the morning that Radiohead show goes on sale only to be interminably redirected to the seating chart page—or the thousands of real people who lost their LCD Soundsystem seats to scalper-bots—this revelation will probably make you want to smash something. You've been hopelessly competing with virtual robots that have been programmed to buy up your tickets. You never had a shot at getting into that Arcade Fire show, no matter how furiously you clicked.
And here's what makes the whole thing especially maddening. Ticketmaster not only knows about the bots, but, as BetaBeat notes, it's not even trying to kick them out of its system. It's just trying to slow them down, so humans have at least a spitting chance.
The vast majority of indie music fans, after all, don’t have a grand to drop on a rock concert. It also pissed off LCD frontman James Murphy, who penned a furious screed on the band’s blog, denouncing the ‘scumfuck scalpers’ using his show to make a quick buck. In an attempt to thwart them, Murphy announced that the band was going to flood the market with 4 more shows leading up to the final one, exponentially increasing supply, and hopefully getting the scalpers’ absurd MSG ticket prices to come down.
It seems like a tired cliche at this point (and who knows if it even happens much but on occasions like this anymore) but rock bands have a long history of butting heads with promoters to keep ticket prices affordable for their fans. In other words, bands have long worked against their own economic interests to keep prices low; this was a dominant part of the punk ethos of the 70s and 80s.
And we’re all the better for it: How many of your favorite bands would you go see if every ticket cost $200? I think most folks would agree that they’d rather live in a society where more people have access to the shows, concerts, and events they love. If bands didn’t fight to keep prices lower, market forces would take over and exclude many of their fans. This is why the legendary punk band Fugazi refuses to play a show where the ticket price is more than $5.